Jephthah’s Valor and Vow
1Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valor, but he was son of a prostitute, while Gilead was Jephthah’s father.
2But Gilead’s wife bore him sons, and when the wife’s sons grew up, they drove Jephthah out and said to him, “You won’t inherit in our father’s house, for you are a son of another woman.”
3Then Jephthah fled from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob. Some worthless fellows joined with Jephthah and went out with him.
4Now it came about after a while that the children of Ammon fought with Israel.
5When the children of Ammon made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to fetch Jephthah from the land of Tob.
6They said to Jephthah, “Come and be our chief, so we may fight the children of Ammon.”
7Jephthah then said to the elders of Gilead, “Didn’t you hate me and drive me out of my father’s house? So why are you coming to me now that you’re in trouble?”
8“Here is why we’re now turning to you,” the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah. “Come with us, fight the children of Ammon, and then you will become head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.”
9So Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “If you take me back home to fight the children of Ammon, and Adonai gives them over to me, I should become your head!”
10The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “Let Adonai be witness between us if we don’t do as you say.”
11Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and chief over them, after Jephthah repeated all his terms before Adonai at Mizpah.
12Then Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the children of Ammon saying, “What have you to do with me, that you have come to me to make war on my land?”
13The king of the children of Ammon answered the messengers of Jephthah, “Because Israel took away my land, when they came up from Egypt, from the Arnon to the Jabbok as far as the Jordan. Now therefore, return them peaceably.”
14But Jephthah sent messengers again to the king of the children of Ammon,
15and said to him, “Thus says Jephthah, ‘Israel did not take away the land of Moab or the land of the children of Ammon.
16For upon departing from Egypt, Israel traveled through the wilderness to the Sea of Reeds and came to Kadesh,
17then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom saying, “Please, let me pass through your land,” but the king of Edom would not consent. Similarly he sent word to the king of Moab, but he would not consent. So Israel, after staying at Kadesh,
18traveled through the wilderness, around the land of Edom and the land of Moab, came to the east side of the land of Moab and they camped on the other side of the Arnon. But they did not enter the territory of Moab, for the Arnon was the border of Moab.
19Then Israel sent messengers to King Sihon of the Amorites, the king of Heshbon, and Israel said to him, “Please, let us pass through your land to my place.”
20But Sihon did not trust Israel to pass through his territory. So Sihon gathered all his troops, camped in Jahaz and fought against Israel.
21But Adonai God of Israel gave Sihon and all his troops into the hand of Israel, and they defeated them. So Israel took possession of all the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that country.
22Thus they possessed all the territory of the Amorites, from the Arnon as far as the Jabbok, and from the wilderness as far as the Jordan.
23So now Adonai God of Israel dispossessed the Amorites from before His people Israel. So should you possess their land?
24Don’t you possess what Chemosh your god gives you to possess? Likewise, whatever Adonai our God has dispossessed from before us, this we will possess.
25Besides, are you any better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever strive against Israel, or did he ever fight against them?
26While Israel was living in Heshbon and its villages, in Aroer and its villages, and in all the cities on both sides of the Arnon for 300 years, why didn’t you try to recover them all that time?
27So I myself have not transgressed against you, yet you are doing me harm by waging war against me. May Adonai, the Judge, judge today between Bnei-Yisrael and the children of Ammon.’”
28However, the king of the children of Ammon paid no attention to the words of Jephthah that he sent him.
29Then the Ruach Adonai came upon Jephthah, so he marched through Gilead and Manasseh, and passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he crossed over to the children of Ammon.
30Then Jephthah vowed a vow to Adonai and said, “If You will indeed give the children of Ammon into my hand,
31then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return safely from the children of Ammon, it will be Adonai’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.”
32So Jephthah crossed over to the children of Ammon to fight against them, and Adonai gave them into his hand.
33So he utterly defeated them from Aroer until you come to Minnith—20 towns—and as far as Abel-cheramim. So the children of Ammon were subdued before Bnei-Yisrael.
34Now when Jephthah arrived at his home in Mizpah, behold, his daughter was coming out to meet him with tambourines and with dances. Now she was his only child. Besides her he had no son or daughter.
35Upon seeing her, he tore his clothes and said, “Alas, my daughter! You made me bow down in grief—you’ve made me miserable! For I have opened my mouth to Adonai, and I cannot take it back.”
36“My father, you have opened your mouth to Adonai,” she said to him. “Do to me what proceeded from your mouth—since Adonai brought vengeance on your enemies, the children of Ammon.”
37She said further to her father, “Let this thing be done for me. Let me be alone two months, so that I may go on the mountains and mourn my virginity, I and my companions.”
38“Go!” he said. So he sent her away for two months. So she left, she and her companions, and mourned on the mountains because of her virginity.
39Then at the end of two months she returned to her father, who did with her according to his vow he had made—so she was never intimate with a man. So it became a custom in Israel,
40that the daughters of Israel would go annually to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.